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Before the start of the season, only a handful of teams were scheduled to perform this year. While the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves were expected to underperform, many other teams are falling behind mid-season. That’s a good reason why the NBA Coaches Carousel could start earlier in the season.
The deadline for NBA trades is the 25th. March is scheduled, so some of these coaches have a month to right the ship, but it will take a long time. This means five head coaches in the league are on the hot seat and could be out of a job very soon.
Rick Carlisle – Dallas Mavericks
At some point, the grace period must end. Carlisle was the leader of the team that won the only NBA franchise championship in 2010, but 11 years have passed since then. Since then, the Mavericks have not left the first round. In the last 11 seasons, Carlisle-led teams have qualified for the post-season just five times. The Mavericks have missed the playoffs three times in the last five seasons.
The Mavericks currently have a 13-15 record and are ranked No. 10 in the Western Conference. With a sensational young stud in Luke Donczyk and a unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis, you’d expect this franchise to have a harder time than it is. Instead, the Mavericks may have missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. If the Mavericks miss the playoffs, Carlisle must be eliminated. But we’ll go ahead and say that making it to the first round of the playoffs shouldn’t be enough either. Carlisle will become a legend in Dallas, but it’s time for a change.
Ryan Saunders – Minnesota Timberwolves
Ryan is the son of the Timberwolves’ favorite, Flip Saunders, but that title won’t get you very far. This makes the 34-year-old coach one of the youngest head coaches in the league. At some point, your relationship with your father should no longer be enough to keep you employed.
The 2018-2019 season runs from the 17th to the 25th following the firing of Tom Thibodeau Saunders. In his first full season, Saunders led the team to a 19-45 campaign with the first draft pick used for Anthony Edwards. The Timberwolves are also in last place in the West for the second year and have a miserable record of 7-22. Of course the team takes care of the injuries and problems related to KOVID-19, but a win for three defeats may not be enough. If the Timberwolves secure first place in the final standings for the second year in a row, Saunders could lose his job.
Scott Brooks – Washington Wizards
When the Wizards acquired Russell Westbrook, it seemed like a good fit. Westbrook played for Brooks, and they have a good relationship. Instead, the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year. From 9 to 5 every night, the franchise was distracted by Westbrook’s poor shooting this season and the possible Bradley Beal trade deadline.
Brooks was insured the past two seasons by John Wall’s injury, which cost him part of the season two years ago and the entire season last year. In the 2016-2017 season, the first in Wizards history, the team won the Southeast Division and advanced to the playoffs, where they lost in six games in the conference semifinals. But if this team has two superstars behind it, that should be a testament to Brooks’ ability to coach the team.
Dwayne Casey – Detroit Pistons
The last three years, Casey has been pretty tough. After winning the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year award, the Toronto Raptors fired Casey. In the end, it turned out to be the right decision, as the team won the NBA championship. Casey joined the Pistons and led the team to the playoffs in his first year, but a lot has changed since then. Andre Drummond was sold. Blake Griffin can’t stay healthy. In 2021, the Pistons are last in the East with a record of 8-20.
At 63, Casey may not be the right person to lead the reconstruction. It will be at least two or three years before the Pistons are relevant again. The Pistons are actively buying Griffins and could get the first pick this year. We can expect a new coach at the head of Detroit by the start of next season.
Steve Clifford – Orlando Magic
Before Markelle Fultz tore her anterior cruciate ligament, Orlando’s magic had ruled the Eastern Conference. Since then, the Magic have struggled and are now 11-18 on the season, 12th in the East and have lost eight of their last 10 games. Two years ago, the Magic won the Southeast division but only reached the first round of the playoffs. Last year, the Magic narrowly made the playoffs at 33-40 and were eliminated again in the first round of the playoffs.
With Evan Fournier heading to free agency and Aaron Gordon on the trading block, this team has a lot more questions than answers. With the Magic falling this season, the team may be looking for a turnaround. Nikola Vuèeviè would be a commercial chip after this season. If the magic is restored through selection, a new coach could become the new face of this regime.
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